Jul. 2—Bethany Everett, the launching principal of IDEA Academy Yukon, said she believes strongly in Odessa students because she sees herself in them.
Originally from the Houston area, Everett watched her single mother work multiple jobs to support her and her brother and she wanted more for herself and any future family she might have.
"... At an early age I thought, if I could have an education I could get out of this. ...," Everett said in an interview over Microsoft Teams. "No one can take away what you know and so that really drove me to be very passionate about education and to, I guess, solidify that I had a teacher in high school who basically saved my life and said you can do this. You can be better; I'm going to help you. I never thought college was a possibility until I met her ..."
Everett earned bachelor's and master's degrees in elementary education from Texas State University and a doctorate in educational leadership from North Central University.
She taught third and fourth grade in Central Texas for six years. Everett then moved to Hawaii and taught eighth grade English language arts for four years. She was an instructional coach and then transitioned back to Texas, moving to Odessa.
"I'm the first person in my family to go to college and I am a living example that an education is an opportunity equalizer," Everett added. "It gives me access to more things than what I had growing up and I want the same for all the kids in Odessa, so learning more about Odessa, the background, and where they rank regionally in Texas I felt like the need was great here and that's what I'm most motivated by is to help those who need it because I sincerely believe that no matter what it shouldn't be determined that because of your family's income or where you live what kind of education you get."
Everett moved to IDEA because she was deeply inspired by its mission and what it stands for. IDEA is a public charter school open to anyone in Odessa. Charters are state funded based on attendance and do not receive property taxes.
"I had 13 years of experience in public schools, and during my time, I just saw that my reach was very limited. We were failing a lot of our students, not preparing them for college. There was just a lot wrong with the system and I just felt deeply frustrated with what I could do."
Everett began having conversations with Bethany Solis, executive director of IDEA Permian Basin, and other members of IDEA and hearing about the work they had done in Texas she wanted to be part of it.
She added that IDEA is committed to student growth and doing what's right for students.
"Oftentimes, I think adults in the system do what's convenient for adults instead of doing what's best for students because sometimes what's best for students is a little bit harder or more work and IDEA definitely focuses on what's best for students."
Solis said Everett was in the principals in residence program in the Rio Grande Valley before being named launching principal at IDEA Yukon.
Everett said the residence program helped her learn the culture and expectations of IDEA.
She added that it was fast paced, but she had a lot of support. Everett was placed at San Benito College Prep in the Rio Grande Valley.
"It really is on-the-job training. I do have my principal's certification from the state of Texas. I went through a program for that as well, but nothing compares to what I've gone through this past year with IDEA and having hands-on learning and training compared to having that education piece of it," Everett said.
The new IDEA Academy Yukon at 7300 E. Yukon Road is about 90 percent complete and estimated to be ready in mid-July. Everett and Solis said it will have about 500 students all together in kindergarten through second grade and sixth grade. The College Prep principal is Dr. Craig Gutierrez.
They expect 120 students per grade level.
Everett's goal is to be an A-rated campus by the state after its first year.
"I also have a personal goal of 80 percent of our students k through 2 on or above grade level and then one-and-a-half years of growth both in math and reading by the end of the year," Everett said. "We are all about the results. I'm super excited to see what the children of Odessa can accomplish because I know that they're going to do great."
Solis said what made Everett stand out is her impressive record of results as an instructional leader in Hawaii and they saw the same qualities in her work at San Benito College Prep during her residency.
"One thing to know about Bethany Everett is typically our principals in residence spend two years in the program for principalship," Solis said.
They asked Everett to put her name in for the Yukon position and she did.
"She ultimately was the top candidate just because of these remarkable results and this fast learning that she had done just in her first year. I think the second reason, you're hearing it here. She has a powerful story that has shaped her values in a way that is completely aligned with what Odessa children deserve — a leader who believes in all kids and has a very special focus on those who don't necessarily have all the supports that other kids might have at home. To have a leader like her making sure that every student is successful is exactly what our community deserves," Solis said.
"Three-fourths of our enrollment, we're almost fully enrolled, we only have a few more spots left but the vast majority of our students — 75 percent — live more than five miles away. They're literally coming from all over the city ...," Solis added.